As Solvent, Toronto producer Jason Amm takes electro-pop to invigorating new levels. In his studio, the sounds of grade-school science class films morph into anthems for the digital age, tracks that look forward while always keeping a keen eye on the past–the '70s and '80s, specifically. Amm's records for labels like Ghostly International and his own Suction Records–which he runs with friend and fellow producer Gregory DeRocher (a.k.a. Lowfish)–helped put synth-pop back on the musical map in the late '90s. Now, as Black Turtleneck (his project with Thomas Sinclair), Amm is ready to put the Human League and early Depeche Mode styles on our collective iPods. Their debut full-length, Musical Chairs (Nrmls Wlcm), brings a host of new wave vocals (courtesy of Sinclair) into the fray, but it's the old-wave synths that still rule the roost. Here Amm provides us with a look into his collection of keyboards.
1. Moog Voyager
My newest synth. Some analog snobs tend to brush it off: "It's no MiniMoog," they say. Perhaps it isn't quite as confident and rude as the original, but my studio is already full of cranky old beasts, so the Voyager sounds refreshingly smooth and creamy to my ears. Mmmmmm, Moog filters.
2. Korg MS-20
The dual resonant filters are the magic behind the MS-20, but don't forget to try running a drum machine through the pitch-to-CV converter for some truly mental acid business. The MS-20 is perfect for programming monsters, insects, and tinfoil teakettles. It also does a lovely flute. Most of my drum sounds are made on the MS-20.
3. Roland V-Synth
I'm known to be pretty anti-digital, but the V-Synth is actually the first synth I've used in ages that has given me new ideas for synthesis and sound manipulation. I've been using the Vocal Card live as my main vocoder, and can't wait to use some of the vocal modeling algorithms on my upcoming material.
4. Roland Jupiter 6
My first analog synth, bought over 15 years ago, which still never fails to impress me. It's definitely not one of those "turn-some-knobs-and-everything-sounds-great" synths, but once you know how to really program it, the surprises keep coming. There is hardly a Solvent recording that isn't dominated by the JP-6.